domingo, 25 de enero de 2009

A Poem about Poems

(Things that Look Abandoned, (Vietnam, 06))

This poem won first place in the Inter Board Poetry Competition and the judge at the time was
David Kirby.

Here is the poem and David Kirby's comments.

A Poem That Thinks It Has Joined a Circus by Liz Gallagher

A handkerchief is not an emotional hold-all.
A cup of tea does not eradicate all-smothering sensations.
A hands-on approach is not the same as a hand-on-a-shoulder
willing a chin to lift and an upper lip to stiffen.
A forehead resting on fingers does not imply that the grains
of sand in an hourglass have filtered through.
A set of eyes staring into space is not an indictment that the sun
came crashing down in the middle of the night.
A sigh that causes trembling and wobbly knees should be
henceforth and without warning trapped in a bell jar and retrained
to come out tinkling ivories with every gasp.
A poem trying to turn a sad feeling on its head does not constitute
a real poem, it is a can-can poem dancing on a pin-head
and walking a tight-rope with arms pressed tightly by its sides.

David Kirby's Comments:

While some critics will tell you that movies about movies or plays about plays are self-involved and decadent, sometimes I feel as though poems about poems are the only ones worth writing. Why? Because, at the moment of "getting it," and this applies to the moment of reading the poem as well as writing it, there is no more electric charge than that which comes with seeing a poem strut its stuff. Of course, part of the poem's and the poet's and the reader's achievement is that none of these three essential elements of the artistic experience knows exactly how that experience works. Just as the tightrope walker has to wobble on the wire, so the poem has to shake and tremble in order to startle and amaze as much as this one does.

* I know that writing poems about poems or about writing is sometimes a no-go area for writers. I have to admit that I do have a stock of poems about this very theme...not sure why I am or maybe was prone to doing so...these poems aren't going to be in the book though, so this post is a sort of 'sorry for abandoning' you poems-about-writing poems...but there you go... : )

What are your thoughts on 'writing about writing'? Have you written any poems or short stories on writing? Do you think it is a case of being too 'decadent' or 'self-involved'? : )

jueves, 22 de enero de 2009

Begin with the Blurb

('Nothing to do with me, Babe' (Galway, Summer 07))

Blurb is a strange word! It doesn’t conjure up to me at all what it really means – I guess, for me, it appears too near, in sound and looks, to the words 'burp' and 'absurd' – I know – this is serious, but really, the word blurb brings out a certain giddiness – not sure why, maybe it’s attached to the fact that I have to ask for some.

One definition of a blurb in the free online dictionary is: ‘a brief publicity note or a promotional description …as on the jackets of books’ Love that word ‘jacket’ for book covers – I had completely forgotten about that.

Apparently, the first literary blurb in history was when Walt Whitman extracted a sentence from a private letter of Emerson’s and emblazoned the jacket of the 2nd edition of Leaves of Grass with the line: I greet you at the beginning of a great career – Emerson hadn’t actually meant an academic career but the choice of words proved quite truthful, in hindsight.

Some questions related to blurb writing that spring to mind are:

1) Does a blurb writer need access to the whole book in order to write a blurb for that particular book? or

2) Does it suffice to have a few sample poems and blurb based on those poems, generalising, somewhat, about the author?

Possibly, there are no hard or fast rules – I imagine it is the person who is writing the blurb who decides, accordingly.

And I’m wondering also if people in general like writing blurbs or is it viewed as an inconvenience? They do get their work cited so I suppose it can be a way of promoting their name and work too…if any one who has blurbed or who is in search of blurbs has anything they’d like to add, I’d love to hear it. : )

I don’t think I’ve ever had a blurb written about my work before …well, let’s see – I remember an unofficial one from Arsenic Lobster where I have my poem 'Small Acts' published…Lissa Kiernan said in her editorial titled: One Paints What One Hears:

‘The attention to detail in Liz Gallagher's "Small Acts" brings me to my knees just like a Catholic church Sunday, when I thought ...preparing for the Holy Ghost means short / lengths of white cloth are woven into strands of hair. ‘

This leads me to think that maybe there are more unofficial blurbs out there attached to my published poems than I hadn’t given consideration to before, I mean, I had read them and appreciated them at the time but had never thought of them as blurbs as such before…I think I will go on a blurb-search and maybe I will be back with more if/when I track them down… : )